Monday, June 29, 2009
In the morning we drove a couple miles back up the road to Kiva’s Koffeehouse. The shop sits overlooking the staircase and serves coffee starting at 8:30. What better way to kick start the day? On the way back down to the starting point we filmed a quick video of the area that we hope to enjoy (check the newest entry). I taped Dave’s ankle, which he’d been resting and icing, and it felt good.
Dave and I at the top of the nameless 9,600 foot summit.
Today was another long day. The first 23 miles were all up hill and culminated in a 9,600 peak. From the top it was 18 miles downhill into Torrey where we broke for snacks. After some ice cream that was a little too good, our bikes were back on the road and we started pedaling. Caineville, our next stop, was 30 miles away. I was ready to put my head down and just do the work, but the Capitol Reef National Park had other plans.
As our descent from the mountain continued we plunged into the massive stone structures of the Capitol Reef National Park. Our route mirrored the Fremont River which cuts in and out of massive stone structures. Some were over 1,000 feet in height. As I zoomed along the road these monuments reminded me of massive medieval fortresses. The cast off boulders that littered the base of each looked like the remnants of a past era. Unfit for the majesty of the plateau, the boulders were thrown down, yet even in their lowliness they added a certain mystique to the overwhelming awe of the mountain from which it had fallen.
We reached Caineville around 6:15. The funny thing about Caineville is that is actually has nothing in it. With no place to sleep we were forced to move on to the next town, Hanksville, 19 miles up the road. This time there were no sites to draw my attention away from the task at hand; I put my head down, shut off my brain, and rolled into Hanksville around 7.
It’s now the late evening and we are all exhausted. Fortunately, tomorrow is only a 50 mile ride (thanks to the 19 miles we cut out from Caineville to Hanksville). We’ll be at the Hite Recreation Area next to Lake Powell for two days. The rest day is much needed, and will hopefully be filled with hiking, swimming, and kayaking. But now it’s time for a shower (we’ve been without showers for three days and smell pretty gross) and a good night’s sleep. Thanks for reading!
The following day was not the best of the ride. Seven miles in Dave and I pulled over into a rest stop. Dave’s Achilles heel was hurting him a lot and had been getting progressively worse over the past four days. We concluded that rest was the best option so a phone call to Lauren brought the Sprinter to Dave and I continued on alone. The next 8 miles were pretty tough. There was a steady grade and my legs hadn’t quite recovered from the climb out of Cedar City. Eight miles in though I managed to generate some good foot speed, shifted up gears, and hit a groove all the way to the 7,777 foot summit. The rest of the 20 miles to our first meeting point were downhill or relatively flat and I cruised.
After a quick break, Lauren decided to join me on the second leg of the trip. It was supposed to be a 31-miler with a 1,500 gradual gain, so we felt pretty good for the first 8 miles. All of a sudden, we turned a corner and saw a winding road as steep as anything I’d climbed before. 1 mile (and a lot of time) later, we reached the top and rolled on down into Escalante.
Just to throw another loop into our plans, everything in Escalante was closed. With no place to stay I jumped back on my bike and started to pedal the 14 miles to the next nearest campground, a little station next to the Escalante River. This turned out to be one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dim day.
A small climb brought us to the an overlook of the Grand Staircase National Monument. In the 1880’s the geoligist Captain Clarence E Dutton referred to the region as “a grand staircase of sequential cliffs and terraces” and the name stuck. It is an impressive sight to behold. Mountains, valleys, canyons, cliffs, and plains all blend together making it difficult to distinguish one from the other. The colors- greens, oranges, and reds- can’t be found anywhere else in the world. After whipping my bike, probably a little too fast (sorry Mom!), around the downhill corners into the canyon I met the Sprinter at the campground.
The campground, as aforementioned, is next to the Escalante River. The river gently flows in and out of the red rock which surrounds in. Dave, Lauren, and I happily jumped in and followed the water upstream. It was a refreshing end to a long day and all our spirits were raised.
The invitation was very welcome. Since mapping out the trip, Dave and I referred to this mountain as “THE BIG CLIMB”. Starting around 6,000 feet, the road follows Cedar Canyon for 17 miles or so and climbs all the way up to 9,900. On our elevation charts it was a daunting figure indeed.
We got to the shop, pumped our tires, and headed over to the group gathered by the door. Waiting for us were three members of the Color Country Cycling Club: Tim, whom we’d met at the shop, Craig, and Chanda. After introductions were made we hit the road and started the climb.
To make a long story short, it was a long, difficult climb. Tim’s computer registered the grade at 16% at one point (it felt like 45% in my legs!). But what a view! About 2 miles from the top there was an overlook of Zion National Park which boasts a marvelous canyon. I glanced over my shoulder as I passed, but didn’t stop; Craig had made a big push a couple miles back and I was, unsuccessfully, trying to catch him.
At the top we gathered for some photos (Craig was long gone by this point so we have no photographic documentation on him….what a climber!). Here’s one of me, Chanda, and Tim.
Dave and I strolled about the upper edges of the canyon for 30 minutes or so before continuing onward. Thankfully, our stop was only 30 miles away, and all downhill! We coasted into Panguitch around 1:00 PM. Little did we know that serendipity would have us pass through this town of little more than 1,000 on the biggest night of the year.
Panguitch hosts an annual hot air balloon show and it so happened that it was to take place the very evening we were there. Main St. was shut down and massive balloons were brought in. As the light faded over the western hills the operators unleashed their propane tanks into the balloons, whose lights reflected off the buildings on the street. They were, essentially, gigantic lanterns providing light for the town.
Friday, June 26, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
The world she wants to live in
She's gonna dream out loud
She's gonna dream out loud"